September 24, 2021
Dear Parents and Families,
Commissioner Rosa
The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that 19 New York schools have been recognized as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Eighteen New York public and charter schools and one nonpublic school have achieved this honor and recognition. Through perseverance to provide welcoming environments for all students, these schools are innovating the delivery of educational opportunities and opening the door to even greater teaching and learning. These schools are working to engage and empower students and serve as models for all New York State schools. You can visit our website for a list of the New York schools named as National Blue Ribbon Schools.
Also this week, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) awarded $14 million to 135 public libraries and systems statewide to support construction and renovation projects. These funds help libraries construct new buildings, create additions, update electrical wiring and computer technology, improve broadband infrastructure, meet energy efficiency standards, renovate facilities to provide full accessibility to library users with disabilities, and provide meeting spaces to accommodate community needs.
Libraries play an integral role in their communities and it’s critical to ensure that necessary resources are available to improve library facilities at this unprecedented time of need. With these funds, our wonderful librarians and staff will be better equipped to help close the digital divide with the necessary infrastructure and accessibility improvements that make urgently important services available to all. A complete list of funded projects is available on the State Library’s website.
At this month’s Regents meeting, the Board and I honored Carly Santangelo, the 2022 New York State Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Santangelo, a middle and high school agriculture teacher at Cuba-Rushford Central School, believes in service learning and works alongside her students to give back to the community in and outside of school. She actively pursues opportunities to expand the walls of her classroom through grants, field trips, community connections, and guest speakers. I'm proud to recognize her as our Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Mrs. Santangelo!
I would also like to congratulate the finalists for the 2022 New York State Teacher of the Year:
  • Amber Chandler, an 8th grade ELA teacher at Frontier Middle School, Frontier Central School District;
  • Jeanne Lance, a 4th grade teacher at Watervliet Elementary School, Watervliet City School District;
  • Heather McCutcheon, a Visual Arts educator at Herkimer Jr./Sr. High School, Herkimer Central School District; and
  • Lynn Sajdak, a Special Education teacher focusing on Life Skills and Workforce Development at Hamburg High School, Hamburg Central School District.
As we continue to transition into the new school year, I am mindful that schools and communities across our state face tremendous challenges. NYSED is committed to helping schools and districts ensure the health and safety of their students and school staff while maximizing in-person teaching and learning experiences. You can visit our Back to School web page to access our Health and Safety Guide, the latest guidance from the New York State Department of Health, and other back to school resources.
I appreciate your continued support. I hope you encourage other families in your community to sign up for our email list to receive these updates.

Betty A. Rosa